There’s a famous proverb that goes “‘From the soil, we have come, to the soil we shall go and from the soil, we want to live.” As profound as this may seem, this piece isn’t about any of that. In fact, it’s about a mum allowing her baby to eat dirt, rocks, sticks and even supermarket trolley straps.
As a new mum, if you saw your baby eating dirt and rocks, you are most likely to Google, “how to stop a child from eating soil?” after pulling him out of the filth. However, this mum believes otherwise.
Mum Allows Child To Eat Soil, Rocks And Even Supermarket Trolley Straps
Image Source: @comingupfern on TikTok
The 22-year-old Alice Bender from Phoenix, Arizona in the US, has caught the attention of the internet after she shared that she allows her eight-month-old baby boy Fern to eat rocks, sand, and sticks.
The mum also made videos of her baby eating dirt and rocks and shared them on the social media app TikTok.
This has come as a shocker to several new mothers and caregivers who insist on maintaining the utmost hygiene and sanitation around a baby. While different mothers have different approach towards cleanliness and immunity building, some might say that the new mum is stretching her baby’s natural immunity threshold.
However, Alice, who raises her son as vegan, defends her parenting style. She insists that germs are nothing to be afraid of and that it’s natural for babies to want to eat sand.
Mum Will Allow The Baby To Eat Rocks As Long As He Is Breastfed
Image Source: @comingupfern on TikTok
The video shared by Alice garnered over 12 million views on TikTok so far. She also blames a “series of billion-dollar campaigns” in Western medicine over the last 200 years for “shifting the public’s perspective” on bacteria and babies.
Furthermore, Bender revealed on TikTok that she exclusively breastfeeds her little boy Fern. And she lets him eat whatever she wants including sand, rocket, and dirt.
She is seen in the video saying, “I do not fear bacteria. In fact, I welcome it. I trust nature and my baby. It is not a coincidence babies have this instinct while they are breastfeeding.”
She further adds that babies should be exposed to bacteria till the time they are being breastfed. A mother’s milk can help them build their natural immune system.
Furthermore, Alice said, “Looking into the pharmaceutical industry as a whole made me realize so much of our society is built on us remaining customers to pharma. I think we all need to take a good look at our preconceived notions about health and figure out what made us this way.”
What Do The Netizens Say?
Netizens have a polarised opinion on the matter and Alice’s parenting style. Several also commented that this can put the baby’s life at risk.
One user wrote, “Are you not worried about parasites? What would you do to protect him from the possibility of getting them by eating dirt?”
Another wrote, “All fun and games till the baby gets a parasitic infection.”
There were also individuals who supported the mum. One user wrote, “This is how babies build their immune systems! Go mom!”
‘Dirt won’t hurt, but letting them bite the belt from the grocery store? Nah,’ said another.
One user made some pertinent points, “I understand building their immune system but what about the sticks and sand cutting up his stomach.”
Advantages Of Breast Milk
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It’s true that breast milk has its own advantages. In the initial months after birth, the baby is completely dependent on the same to meet the nutrition requirements.
It’s also easier to digest over formula milk that carries antibodies and boosts the baby’s immune system.
As surprising as it may sound, but there are advocates of babies eating dirt at an early age. A 2016 book ‘Let Them Eat Dirt’ makes the case and talks about why babies need to play in the dirt and even eat it.
The book is authored by Brett Finlay and Marie-Claire Arrietta, of the University of British Columbia. The researchers argue that maintaining contact with bacteria can help children develop healthy immune systems. Similarly, a 2017 book ‘Dirt Is Good’ written by Jack Gilbert and Robert Knight, of the University of San Diego, offers similar conclusions.
Why Is My Child Eating Soil?
At the outset, it’s important to understand that it’s only natural your baby is eating soil. As infants grow older, they more and more curious about the world around them. And will use all human sensory organs to touch, see, smell and taste.
Kids usually get over eating soil on their own beyond the initial days of development. However, if the child is still doing this in school, it could be due to iron, zinc or calcium deficiency. This may create an urge in the child to eat various non-edible items.
Of course, children are at grave risk upon eating soil. For instance, larger rocks can block a child’s intestine. Meanwhile, parasites and pesticides sprayed on soil can put the child’s life in grave danger.
How To Stop Your Child From Eating Soil?
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If your child is eating dirt, soil, rocks, here’s how you can prevent them from doing so in the future:
Mop the floor with antiseptic liquid instead of sweeping it
Dust your house regularly so your baby does not have access to it
Keep the backyard clean of animal faeces, in case your child wanders off to explore the space
Baby-proofing the garden is also a good idea to keep the baby away till the cravings pass
Make sure to clean your baby’s hands and legs immediately after playing in the mud.
If your child has eaten soil and is feeling uneasy, it’s best to visit your paediatrician at the earliest. In most cases, this is usually a phase and it will pass before you even know it.